Tuesday, November 17, 2009 4:25 PM
PDC09 Keynote: Open Source, Open Platforms and the Democratization of Data
No one was surprised this year at PDC when it was revealed that the theme for the show was to be Azure and cloud computing. What did raise some eyebrows (including my own) was Microsoft’s new found attitude towards interoperability with other technologies. Not only were the iPhone and the Kindle prominently displayed in the keynote, the much of the open source stack was also shown as supported on the Azure stack.
Open Source and Azure
It was shocking when Matt Mullenweg, founder of Automatic and father of (PHP based) Wordpress took the stage. He revealed a set of impressive Wordpress addins which allow for very simple scaling for sites on the Azure cloud. Scaling to more instances was as simple as increasing an integer in a config file. Immediately after Martin Cron of icanhascheezbuger fame took the stage and demonstrated how this works with his newly launched oddlyspecific.com.
This move to embrace the top of the open source stack is by far the smartest move Microsoft could have made at this point in time. It should be obvious that fighting a war on four fronts (Apple, Google, Amazon, and Open Source) is a losing battle. Also, unlike Google which emphasizes open source licensing, Microsoft is emphasizing open platforms, which is much more important.
By far the most interesting technical announcement was that of Codename: Dallas. Dallas is a sort of App Store for data sets. “Data as a service” if you will. Here you can download free and paid datasets which also include pregenerated C# and SOAP adapters. Available datasets include Mars Rover images which I can’t wait to get my hands on.
Vivek Kundra of Data.gov appeared remotely and discussed the possibility of making government data just as easily accessible. This democratization of data would truly be revolutionary if done well. Imagine if you could easily run queries directly against EPA data or senate voting data. The possibilities are endless.
As it turns out, Dallas part of a larger project named Pinpoint. Pinpoint will allow users to browse and purchase applications and services for Microsoft platforms. I suspect over the coming months partners will be jockeying for position on this new site.
All in all, these look to be very exciting developments indeed.